First time Iowa caucus participants have become the key for the leading presidential candidates, a new poll found.
Quinnipiac University released the results of its latest poll on Monday, in which it said a lead enjoyed by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is largely due to first-timers. It also said that Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders needs those first-timers to tie Hillary Clinton.
"The size of the turnout [Monday night] will likely be the key factor, especially on the Democratic side," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll. "High turnouts with lots of new caucus participants likely would mean a good night for Sen. Bernie Sanders, and for Donald Trump."
Trump jumped to a 31 to 24 percent lead over Sen. Ted Cruz. Sen. Marco Rubio has 17 percent and Dr. Ben Carson has 8 percent.
No other Republican candidate is above 4 percent.
Cruz only trailed Trump by 2 percent as recently as last week, researchers found.
On the Democratic side, the poll finds that Sanders leads 49 percent to Clinton's 46 percent. Three percent are for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
Quinnipiac's researchers said first-timers are driving the caucuses.
Trump leads Cruz 40 to 22 percent among them. In terms of those who've attended the caucuses before, 26 percent are for Cruz while 25 are for Trump.
For Sanders, he tops Clinton 62 to 35 percent among Democratic first-timers. However, Clinton has him beat 52 to 41 percent among voters who've been there before.
As a whole, 44 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats said this is their first caucus.
To read the complete break down of the Quinnipiac poll, click here.
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